Religiosity and Mystical Experience
Along with Huston Smith (Do Drugs Have Religious Import? Huston Smith, Ph.D. The Journal of Philosophy, Vol LXI, No. 18, Setember 17, 1964) – making only slight alterations – I define a religious experience as one which involves “the immediate and intuitive experience of a transpersonal dimension, leading to virtuous attitudes and harmonious feelings”. The religious life involves at least three basic functions:
1- Speculation – a philosophical, speculative side, using the rational function of the mind. Basic problems of human existence are investigated and discussed: unity and diversity; determinism and freedom; good and evil; time and eternity; ethical absolutism and relativism; theism, atheism and pantheism; life and death; attachment and detachment.
2- Ethics – the active expression of religious principles, concern for others, the observance of rules of behaviour, the fulfilment of social duties which emerge from the religious commitments of the believer.
3- Consecration – the cultivation of the sacred experience, the meeting with the divine, not so much rationally as intuitively.
It’s undeniable that religion shares the first two aspects with other activities like philosophy, education,medicine, social work, ecology etc, but the third
function – the search for the divine leading to mystical union – is also essential to any activity which is to be recognised as being truly and indisputably “religious”.
Few, apart from dogmatic sectarians, would argue with the idea that:
1. The essence of true religiosity is the search for the sacred, crowned by the mystical experience of union.
2. That a mystical experience is an expanded state of consciousness.
3. That the most primitive and traditional practices of humanity, carried out in our modern times by indigenous peoples, shamans and syncretic religions, with their use of psycho-active plants as their sacrament – in our case, the ritualistic use of Ayahuasca – are capable of producing this state of ecstasy and mystic union.
Indeed, many people – perhaps many thousands of them – can recognise and attest to the spiritual value of these things through their own experience.
(1) Do Drugs Have Religious Import? Huston Smith, Ph.D. The Journal of Philosophy, Vol LXI, No. 18, Setember 17, 1964